St. Paul’s Episcopal Church began in 1809 in a small building on South Fairfax Street between Prince and Duke Streets. In 1817, one of the country’s most famous architects, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, was chosen to design the present church. Appointed by President Jefferson in 1803 as surveyor of public buildings in Washington, D.C., Latrobe completed the U.S. Capitol and the White House. An outstanding example of American architecture and inspired by the Gothic churches in Europe, St. Paul’s is said to have been modeled after St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, London.
Throughout its long history St. Paul's has been known as a place of worship and a place where disciples are formed and sent into the world. Children and families constitute the largest demographic of the congregation, with the St. Paul's Episcopal Preschool being a vital part of the parish mission.St. Paul’s has also consistently been involved in community outreach. In addition to establishing what would become the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1823, the Alexandria Hospital was founded in Wilmer Memorial in 1872 and in 1914 the Alexandria Red Cross was founded by the ladies of St. Paul’s Church. Our St. Paul's Lazarus Ministry, which seeks to serve our Alexandria neighbors in need, has become the largest service program in terms of funding and community impact. More recently, the parish has started The Damascus Project, a microlending program to support local entrepreneurs.